UMassD Believes 2023

Summer Writing Project

Gratitude + Generosity

How has generosity shaped your life? Or gratitude, for that matter? What do you believe?

Post submissions here that match this topic thread in comments.


  1. Darwin Saint Hubert

    Generosity and gratitude have both shaped my life positively. Generosity allows me to show kindness and provide a positive impact on somebody else. Gratitude reminds me of all of the things that I am grateful for in my life. I believe that generosity and gratitude go both ways. They are similar to each other in a sense that you can express gratitude through generosity. Sending letters to your loved ones is a generous thing to do and shows that you are grateful for them. Everyone in life goes through obstacles and may even hide it, therefore, I believe that doing kind gestures is something that everyone should do once in a while to help someone in need, which is what I try implementing in my life. In doing so, my view of life gets better knowing that I am focusing on the positive aspects of my life rather than the negatives. I am thankful for many things, like my health, home, friends, and family. While there is much more that I can include for things I am thankful for, these are just some of the things that I am appreciative for and sometimes take for granted. Generosity and gratitude is not limited to anyone. Everyone is capable of showing generosity and gratitude through different ways, which is completely fine as long as it is shown. Negativity doesn’t exist when we are in the state of being kind and thankful, therefore, we all should show generosity and gratitude from time to time.

  2. I believe that generosity goes a long way.

    Throughout my life I’ve always been taught to treat others how I want to be treated. Whether it be by helping someone with a project, doing a good deed, or simply listening to others while having a conversation, each of these examples can be the difference in changing someone’s mood or even helping someone become a better person. I’ve seen people treat others horribly in both real life and media and sometimes nothing happens to those who show primarily animosity towards others, but I’ve mostly met and seen people who are generous and courteous towards others. Whether it be a short conversation with a stranger, or a long chat between a close friend or coworker, just listening to the other person and showing interest in what they’re saying can help them and show that you care. In some cases you could offer help to aid someone whether it be helping them with an issue they’re having, grabbing or moving something for them or just spending time with them. The act of lending someone a moment of your time can do a lot for someone and sometimes when you do something for another they might return the favor or even better might start helping others out more often as well. Do I think everyone I meet will be kind to me? No, in fact sometimes I can be more pessimistic and anticipate people to be more apathetic towards me, which I’m sure goes for others as well. Growing up I heard parents, friends, and tv shows tell
    “Stranger danger.” and to a degree it stuck with me and I believe it affected how I interact with people, same with others. I’ve always had a hard time talking with new people and still have a hard time with it to this day. But, even with my difficulties talking to people I still make an effort to help when I know I can, I also like to show appreciation towards others when they see me struggling and offer me a shoulder to lean on until I conquer whatever issue I was having. Whether it be through doing them a favor, paying for dinner the next time we hang out, or just simply thanking them to show my gratitude in some form helps.
    People like to receive some sort of appreciation towards their efforts. Does this mean showing gratitude is expected no, well at least it shouldn’t. Gratitude is a good thing, but not everyone does a good thing for the right reason. There is the possibility of people weaponizing doing a good deed for you and expect you to owe them making you feel indebted to them. It’s a form of manipulation and it’s sadly pretty common.
    It’s actually something I did when I was young without even knowing it. Though I was never addressed about it and I grew out of doing it I only realized years later that I’d sometimes do something nice for someone and expect compensation. I still believe it’s better to show gratitude in some way, but I don’t believe people are required to show gratitude. Just a simple thank you or just a positive change in mood is enough and if I don’t even get that I try not to let it bother me too much. I believe generosity goes a long way, you should just do it to help others, because the more people that you show kindness towards the more likely you’ll get others to do the same thing more often.

  3. Little Things
    I believe in the little things, the simple things of life. This is what makes life a bit better for you and me.

    What do I mean by the little things? It could be a hello, helping at home with the chores or remembering my friend’s birthday. What I mean is giving everything my very best. Not taking anyone or anything for granted. I believe in going the extra mile not leaving anything to chance.

    During my early years in high school, I was often perceived as snobbish and distant, making it challenging for me to engage in conversations with people. As a result, others found it difficult to open up to me. One day, while walking with a friend, I noticed her simple yet impactful act of smiling and waving to someone she knew. This observation opened my eyes to the importance of the little things. It made me realize that even in my daily routines, numerous opportunities existed for me to create positive impacts on those around me.

    Today, I challenge all of you to embrace small discomforts and make an effort to change your world and the worlds of those around you. I believe in doing things with love and care, being generous, and going out of your way for others. To me, serving others is the essence of being human. So, let’s cherish and embrace the little things that can bring joy, love, and positivity into our lives.

    To conclude, I believe in the little things that have the power to transform lives and create lasting impressions. Let us all be mindful of the small actions we take daily and how they contribute to the greater good. Together, we can make a difference in our world. Our intentions and attention to others matter. To one, the little things may seem insignificant but little drops of water make the mighty ocean.

  4. Samantha Beane

    During my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to complete a co-op for my medical assisting class. Toward the end of my junior year, with the guidance of my co-op instructor, I arranged a meeting with a school nurse from a local elementary school. During our first meeting, she showed me around while explaining her hectic day. She said, “ice is love.” After a necessary explanation of what she meant, I came to agree. We believe that ice is love.

    Throughout my time at the school, I often heard this phrase, which seemed to be the philosophy of the nurses’ office. I tried to keep this in mind whenever a student walked through the door. I always think back to how easy elementary school was, especially compared to the material that I’ve recently learned and will be studying. I now realize that certain skills were difficult when I was that age. Because as much as I try to remember my life during K-5, I can only think of times I played soccer during recess, not how difficult my schoolwork was. Thinking it was “easy” then, is only because I now have the knowledge I didn’t have back then. I’ve memorized the US monetary system by heart, I’ve mastered multiplication tables, and I know the entire water cycle. It was easy to overlook the fact that I have already learned the concepts they may be struggling with and have yet to know. It’s comparable to my academic struggles. While my teachers have nearly mastered their courses, I have more to learn.

    I noticed that each student could be dealing with issues hidden beyond their immediate —and sometimes phantom—health concerns. Whether they didn’t get enough sleep or simply seeking a break from class, I aimed to empathize and provide support. I learned to be lenient at times when allowing students to stay a bit longer, give a band-aid that’s not needed, or adjust their clothing if it’s bothering them. If there is nothing else, we could do to treat a specific problem, giving them an ice pack or a cup of water can further show that we tried. I know that seeing the nurse for help and not getting much empathy makes you feel worse. Even by saying that there is not much we can do, we can show that we want to go above and beyond to comfort them. Saying “what can I do to help you?” Even though the answer is probably “I don’t know.” By offering ice, water, crackers, a short rest, or a simple conversation, I hopefully let them know I am there.

    Empathy is crucial, even when a straightforward solution isn’t available. Despite the limited resources for treatment, I made a conscious effort to let the students know that I was there for them. I’ve figured that no matter what, make sure they are comfortable, not just in the office with their issue, but comfortable in our hands. Ice is love. And I believe it is worth it every time, to make another trip for ice, water, or a snack. Whatever they need.

  5. Isabella G
    Generosity and gratitude are some of the most important values I believe everyone should possess. To truly enjoy my life I have made it my mission to take no aspect of it for granted. I am grateful for my family, my pets, my friends, and the place where I get to live. Anyone can despair over their situation, find the faults with how they exist, it takes a grateful person to openly appreciate their life. Gratitude has taught me how to be thankful for what I have and not waste my time dwelling on things I do not have. I believe it is important to understand both the small and big space we all have in this world. Being generous towards others can put in perspective our place in the world and how fortunate we are where we are in a position to offer help to someone else.
    Being generous to others gives me a genuinely good feeling. Being able to provide aid to those that need it in any small capacity can make my life feel like it has meaning. I want to help others and that’s why I value generosity and gratitude. I am grateful I am able to provide generosity to others. And I hope if the need ever arises and I need help that someone that values generosity will be willing to prove it. I believe that by putting good out into the world that maybe that generosity can snowball to become something bigger down the line.

  6. When do we learn feelings? When does it become clear what reaction will come out of our own conscious bodies? Well, we don’t, and despite the argument that we are direct products of our environment, every feeling we feel is instinctual. Every human has the ability to feel happy, sad, angry, emotions that are typically a result of our situation at that given time. We don’t often feel in control of these emotions, but there are things we can control (quite easily actually).
    Feelings, and the ability to feel, is a concept we take for granted alot. We like to believe we have no control in what we feel, or experience in day to day life, and while that may be true in some cases, there is a lot in our control, and it is our responsibility to control it. Being grateful for another person, or the world around you, isn’t something that’s celebrated in our society enough. Instead the average overactive ego intervenes and says saying thank you or truly appreciating something is demeaning and weak.
    Have you ever been to a place you really like going with people you love, and caught yourself taking a step back and thinking “this is really awesome i wish i could feel this forever”? That is gratitude in its utmost beautiful state. If you don’t hold onto it, it dissipates, and if you’re an anxious being, it can turn into the fear of the fun experience ending, and in turn ruin the moment you’re in. However, gratitude is a feeling, not an emotion. It is a conscious decision that is in your control. There is no glass half empty, or glass half full people, no matter if you think, or have been told you’re one or the other, there isn’t even a glass, just your perception of it. The world is much like that, there is no bad or good, just your perception. Obviously there are bad things that happen in the world and society tends to focus on those things more than the good, frankly because bad often makes a better story, but your reality is entirely dependent on your perception of it.
    Gratitude isn’t just something that affects the now, it also affects the tomorrow. No matter if you believe in god, allah, the buddha, the universe, the simulation, nothing, or even everything, what you put into this world comes back in forms your present body couldn’t even begin to imagine. The most common term used for this concept is manifesting, the action of speaking what you want into existence. It’s like classical conditioning for your brain. So if what we think becomes our reality, and someone thinks mostly about violence, grudges, and destruction, their reality is going to be much different than someone who thinks mostly of empowerment, gratitude, and their future.
    What’s the difference between waking up and saying “I have to do so much today,” and “There’s so many things I get to do today”? For starters, if you say the first one, you’re not alone, it’s common for us to view things we don’t usually want to do, like work, school, laundry, paying bills, etc. as chores, but what if we didn’t. What if instead we felt a rush of adrenaline, euphoria, and a big rush of our happy chemicals, that would make the day a lot easier to not just complete, but enjoy. Something as small as saying thank you and really feeling grateful, not only affects the person on the receiving end, but also how you feel about the world around you, and in turn, yourself, because your perception of reality, is your reality.

  7. Empathy is the lodestone that guides my daily life, shaping my interactions, decisions, and perceptions of the world. It’s a value that crystalized during a transformative moment, forever etching its importance in my heart and mind.

    Years ago, I found myself in the hospital, accompanying a loved one through a grave illness. It was a time of profound vulnerability, both for them and for me. The relentless beeping of machines and the hushed conversations among doctors became a dissonant symphony of uncertainty. It was in that sterile, stark environment that empathy revealed its immense power.

    As I watched nurses and healthcare professionals tirelessly attend to the needs of patients, I realized that empathy wasn’t just a soft skill or a platitude; it was a force capable of offering solace in the darkest hours. It was the nurse who held a trembling hand, the doctor who offered a reassuring smile, and the janitor who shared a kind word. Each act of empathy transformed the hospital from a cold, clinical place into a sanctuary of healing and hope.

    This experience ignited a profound belief within me: that empathy is the cornerstone of human connection and understanding. It bridges divides, nurtures compassion, and fuels positive change. It isn’t just about feeling for others; it’s about standing in their shoes, understanding their struggles, and lending a helping hand.

    Empathy matters because it reminds us of our shared humanity. It challenges us to look beyond our differences and cultivate a world where kindness is the currency we trade in. It is the source of profound relationships, transformative moments, and a more compassionate society. As I navigate life, I hold this belief close, striving to make each day a testament to the power of empathy to transform lives, including my own.

  8. Louise I.

    I feel so deeply that generosity is so important in our day-to-day lives, because small acts of kindness mean so much to me, and have had the biggest and most positive impacts on my life when I needed them the most. I’ve seen firsthand how small kindnesses- compliments, reassurances, even just smiles and cheerful small talk with strangers, can make a genuine positive impact on every interaction, and on the physical and mental wellbeing of myself and others.
    I feel this view has been impacted around the many others I’ve been around and have grown up knowing who will make a joke at others’ expense, or do something petty if only to make someone’s day just a little bit worse because it gives them self satisfaction. People who believe that there’s no real “reason” to show kindness or friendliness to others because it doesn’t get them anything in return. I’ve never been able to understand that point of view, because I myself have been impacted so positively by countless, simple acts of kindness that people did not strictly need to bestow upon me, nor receive anything in exchange for but my gratitude.
    I’ve had days I was just trying to get through without cracking under stress and overwhelm that I’ve ended feeling collected and happy due to someone’s small kindness. I have shirts and dresses I’ve begun to wear more frequently- and even ones I’ve bought- because someone complimented me on it in passing. This way I have learned the incredible confidence that small compliments can inspire, and the strong sense of wellbeing that small reassurances or the company of an understanding friend can provide.
    I always try to pay these acts of generosity forward as a gratitude to those who had paid small, free acts of kindness to me, because it genuinely really does go a long way, and you just never know who might need it in that moment, so why not be kind?

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